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World Data Forum Calls for Digital Cooperation

Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria. UN Photo / Mark Garten

Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria. UN Photo / Mark Garten

World Data Forum Calls for Digital Cooperation

The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said Monday that to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we need more and better data.

With accurate, representative, inclusive and disaggregated data, she said, we can understand the challenges we face — and identify the most appropriate solutions for sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed was addressing the participants at the United Nations World Data Forum (October 22 – 24) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

While it is clear that the data revolution is having an enormous impact, it has not benefited everyone equally, she lamented. Since 1970, Ms. Mohammed said, natural disasters have affected the lives of more than 460 million people in Africa.

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Many lives and livelihoods could have been saved with better data and forecasting. And in more than two thirds of countries, there is a lack of gender disaggregated data on violence against women.

Our task is to make sure data is available to all people. We must make sure it is harnessed to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda at all levels and in all regions and countries.

That is why the United Nations is leading global efforts to integrate data and information systems. The Open Data Hub for the Sustainable Development Goals allows countries to bring together different data sources, integrated with geospatial information, for evidence-based decision-making and advocacy.

The global Sustainable Development Goal indicator website gives users access to all available global data and enables them to see interactive stories about progress on implementing the 2030 Agenda. And United Nations Global Pulse works to harness big data to accelerate sustainable development and humanitarian action globally.

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Meanwhile, the United Nations system is also working to build the statistical capacity of countries to improve the timeliness and quality of data and statistics on the Sustainable Development Goals, in part through a new global network of statistical training institutions.

And the United Nations Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague is increasing the impact and use of data throughout the humanitarian sector, ensuring that aid workers around the world can access the data they need to make fast, life‑saving, informed decisions.

“We are also partnering with the World Bank on ID4D, allowing us to ensure with biometrics that we leave no one behind from birth,” Ms. Mohammed said.

In July this year, the UN Secretary-General launched a high-level panel on digital cooperation. Its task is to help harness the benefits of emerging technologies, including issues of data literacy, data privacy and the digital divide, while avoiding the unintended negative consequences of technological innovation, such as job losses and the erosion of workers’ rights.

She suggested that UN country teams of the future must be fully equipped with the right skills and capacities to harness the opportunities offered by all types of data and innovation, including emerging technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, and drones.

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